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A Month-To-Month Guide To Gardening

Sat., May 17, 1997


Prune spring flowering shrubs once the blooms fade.

Cut back spring perennial flowers to 3 inches in height as soon as they are done blooming. Large plants can be dug up, divided and restarted in a fresh spot.

Sow perennial flower seeds outdoors early in May.

Plant new perennial starts, but only if the transplants have spent a few days outdoors to get used to the cool nights.

Fertilize established perennials. Liquid fertilizers work well. Most perennials won’t need additional feedings.

Summer bulbs like dahlias, gladiolas, cannas and begonias can be planted.

Lawn weeds can be killed more economically by spraying individual weeds. Purchase weed killers in concentrated strength and dilute them in a spray bottle to save money.

Sow hardy annual flowers like bachelor buttons, alyssum, sweet pea, calendula and cosmos.

Start planting beans early in the month. Corn, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins can be sown around the middle of the month.

Don’t plant tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplants and other warm-weather plants until a week after the nights start to get mild. The same goes for annual flowers like impatiens, petunias, marigolds and lobelia.

Check plants for infestations of insects, but don’t try to control them unless they are causing damage.


Plant warm-season vegetables such as beans, corn, pumpkins and squash early in the month.

It’s not too late to transplant tomatoes or pepper starts if done in the first week of June.

Remove dead flowers from lilacs, rhododendrons, geraniums and irises.

Pinch back growth on chrysanthemums to 8 inches above the ground to make plants bushier.

Water lawn long enough so that it soaks in deeply, and only once or twice a week. It takes about an inch of water a week to make a lawn thrive in hot weather.

Fertilize roses after the first flush of blooms. Use granular formulations such as 10-5-5, 8-12-4 or 6-10-4. Liquid fertilizer can be sprayed on the foliage.

Some houseplants can be taken outdoors and placed in the shade.

Organic mulches can be spread around the base of plants to help conserve moisture.


Weed the garden, water the lawn and apply mulch. Weeds compete for moisture, so get rid of them.

Harvest garlic and onions when the tops begin to turn yellow. The best way is to bend the tops down, and let them turn yellow completely before digging up the bulbs.

Remove faded blossoms and flowers from annuals and perennials.

Fertilize the lawn early in July, and again around Labor Day.

Sharpen lawn mower blades. Dull blades shred the ends of the lawn grasses, and those ends wilt to a yellowish white color.

Mow the lawn a little higher so that the grass plants can conserve moisture.

Add fertilizer along the sides of corn, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes.

Dig for new potatoes when the flowers on the plants appear.

Herbs should be ready for cutting and drying.


Start harvesting beans, cucumbers, early corn, potatoes, carrots and summer squash.

Feed strawberries with fertilizer in the middle of the month.

Do not fertilize woody perennials, shrubs or trees after the first of the month. It may delay their ability to go dormant in the fall.

Prune raspberries after they have finished bearing fruit. Cut brown dry canes to the ground. Leave the new green canes for next year’s crop.

If the weather cools down, it’s a good time to plant late vegetable crops like beets, lettuce, spinach or other greens.

Stems of oriental poppies should be cut to the ground when the leaves become ragged.


Spring flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinth can be planted.

Winter squash and pumpkins may be harvested late in the month.

New lawns may be planted.

Dig up nonhardy plants and bulbs after the middle of the month. Bulbs and geranium plants can be stored in sand and kept moist in a cool place.

Clean up plant debris in the yard.

Harvest sunflowers when the back of the head is brown and dry. A cheese cloth placed over the flower will keep birds from eating the seeds. To cure the seeds, place the head in a paper sack and store in a warm dry place.

It’s time to harvest and preserve extra garden vegetables. Salsa can be made from tomatoes and peppers. Lemon juice or vinegar should be included in the recipe to prevent bacteria from growing.

Fertilize the lawn early in the month.


Plant garlic in October.

Finish digging up any nonhardy bulbs like dahlias, cannas and gladiolas.

Divide and transplant herbs and summer blooming perennials.

Spray peach, apricot and cherry trees with a fungicide.


Strip leaves from roses to hasten dormancy. A couple weeks later, cover them with a mound of soil 10 inches high, and after the soil freezes, put a foot or two of pine needles or straw over the mound.

If you are planning to have a live Christmas tree, dig the hole in November, and store some soil in a place that won’t freeze.

Give some extra water to evergreen shrubs and trees to prevent winter burn. Oregon grape and rhododendron are vulnerable to this.

Clean and oil lawn mower and clean up tools for winter storage.

Drain hoses, coil them and store them in the basement or cellar.

Scrub and store birdbaths or plant containers.

Turn off outdoor water.

Finish pruning raspberries. Leave new green canes for next year’s crop.

Do some extra weeding to save time next spring.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by staff writer Mike Prager


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